USS Hawkbill SS-366 (1944-1970)
The USS Hawkbill, laid down on August 7, 1943, engaged in five war patrols with the US Navy.
Action in World War II
The first patrol took it to the Philippine Islands, then the South China Sea. It departed with the Baya and Becuna on the 23rd of August, 1944. After some confrontation, which included attacking a 12-ship convoy alongside the Becuna, it crossed the heavily patrolled Lombok Strait undetected, and ended its patrol at Fremantle, Australia.
The second patrol began with the Becuna and the Flasher, bound for seas north of the Malay Barrier. A run-in occurred with an enemy convoy at night, during which it sank the destroyer, Momo, with well-aimed torpedo strikes. It once again headed for the Lombok Strait. It was sighted by a patrol craft en route, but maneuvered into a rain storm and disappeared. It returned to Fremantle on January 5th, 1945.
The Hawkbill’s third patrol began on February 5th, 1945. It was making an effort to re-engage its former pursuers in the Lombok Strait, and successfully did so. It sank two submarine chasers as well as some smaller craft. Then it headed for the South China Sea. On February 20th, it sighted a convoy and engaged in gunfire with an escort before sinking the 5,400-ton cargo ship, the Daizen Maru. It returned to Fremantle on the 6th of April.
Just a month later, on the 5th of May, the Hawkbill departed on its fourth patrol. It arrived off the coast of Malaya on the 16th of May, and encountered the Hatsutaka. Its first attack ended in two hits and some severe damage to the enemy minelayer. The next morning, the Hawkbill spotted it being towed to the beach, and fired three more torpedoes at long range, successfully sinking the ship. After further patrol, it arrived at Subic Bay on June 18th, 1945.
The Hawkbill’s fifth and last war patrol began on the 12th of July. It returned to Malaya and attacked a convoy, but ended up with severe damage after a sharply-placed enemy depth charge attack. It then steamed to Borneo after visiting Subic Bay for repairs. It rendezvoused with Australian Army officers for a special mission, and went on to destroy two radio stations, land commandos at Terampha Town, and conduct reconnaissance at the Anambas Islands before returning to Borneo.
After the War
Following the surrender of Japanese forces, the Hawkbill sailed to Pearl Harbor, before being decommissioned at Mare Island on the 30th of September, 1945, and sold for scrap on November 24, 1970.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.